The Shift in Private School Education to Relationship-Based Learning

(Sponsored) At ‘Iolani School, empowerment begins with seeing each student as an individual.



When it comes to learning, textbooks can only do so much. The key to nurturing young minds lies in creating an environment that encourages personal growth, offers a support system and builds relationships. ‘Iolani School remains committed to empowering each student—through a curriculum that cultivates the mind, body and spirit—to create successful, well-rounded citizens of the world.


The “One Team” Philosophy

Guided by the “one team” spirit, ‘Iolani School creates respectful and morally courageous students who value collaborative achievement and display selflessness, intellectual humility and mutual respect. It aims to be much more than a classroom: ‘Iolani strives to be a second home that students look forward to visiting, a place of celebration and where people care about one another.


‘Iolani School remains dedicated to not only sharing ideas, but also a set of ideals to develop liberally educated, well-rounded individuals who are well prepared for college and ready to assume their responsibilities as active, moral citizens. A tradition of student-centered learning allows teachers to recognize and encourage the limitless potential in each of their students.


Personalized Education

‘Iolani teachers are mentors who challenge and care for the individual, provide lengthy course offerings in a variety of topics, taking risks and developing a voice, collaboration, and partnership with college professors or community experts to do original research. Relationship-based education and small classes (it maintains a 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio, with an average class size of 16 students) means kids are encouraged to take intellectual risks, collaborate with peers and solve problems creatively. Academic excellence and personal growth flourish in an atmosphere that is challenging and competitive, yet caring and nurturing.


‘Iolani School is a global model for a forward-looking education, positively challenging individuals with the work ethic and courageous character to thrive in a fast-changing world. It prepares students to lead in the evolving and expanding world of information access, creation, sharing and communication, and provides real-world learning opportunities that enable students to dive deep, pursue their passions and develop a resilient inner drive for excellence. And the school’s stellar track record hasn’t gone unnoticed—‘Iolani School is named the No. 1 best private high school and No. 1 best private K through 12 School in Hawai‘i for 2021 by Niche.


Real-World Projects

Iolani School Aina Informatics Initiative

Photo: Courtesy of ‘Iolani School



A great education prepares young minds for success after schooling. The world-renowned Sullivan Center for Innovation and Leadership is a place for students to discover their passions, who they are as people and how they relate to the ever-changing world we live in. It offers over 40,000 square feet of learning space dedicated to STEM education, and, through classes and enrichment opportunities, it preps students with the intellectual capacity to analyze problems and be able to create innovative solutions, as well as the emotional maturity and compassion to want to effect positive change in our community.


‘Iolani School is dedicated to developing programs and partnerships that allow students to work, learn, and become community leaders through service and outreach. It was one of only five schools in the nation to receive the prestigious Edward E. Ford Leadership grant, which was used to fund the ‘Aina Informatics Initiative, a science-based program aimed at developing place-based curricula for ethical genome science that centers on Hawaiʻi’s unique relationships to the ‘āina, all while generating real data via a citizen science approach. This growing network consists of high school science teachers from both public and private schools across Hawaiʻi.



‘Iolani’s curriculum focuses on creating meaningful, sustainable and reciprocal global relationships that stimulate the exchange of ideas, foster a deeper cultural awareness and build students’ desire to improve the world around them. Here, those with different backgrounds, strengths and passions are more than welcome—they’re celebrated. Case in point:

  • Its boarding program features a representation of 15 countries and territories. Over 9 foreign languages are spoken among our boarding students.
  • For the 2020–21 school year, ‘Iolani gave more than $7 million in financial aid to 28% of the student body, with an average award of $12,000 per student
  • 72% of its high school students are athletes, participating in at least one sport, and 35%participated in more than one
  • More than 90 student clubs and service organizations are offered




Photo: Courtesy of ‘Iolani School



With a balanced education, students grow into the active and informed citizens our communities need. An ‘Iolani education is one that’s all encompassing, building not just the mind and body, but spirit as well, through programs that put faith in action and teach character, ethics, emotional literacies, self-awareness and respect for others. Students are given an education for a lifetime through a curriculum that maintains a healthy balance between academic and non-academic activities, and offered the time and encouragement to identify and master their passions, seek out their own opportunities, try new activities and explore subjects without fear of failure.


Learn More

Considering a private school education for your keiki? Prospective families are invited to attend ‘Iolani School’s online information night, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. Learn about admission and financial aid details, and meet some of the people who make this Island school such a special place.